Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH
Picture: GETTY IMAGES/IAN FORSYTH

On the 50th anniversary of the death of rock legend Jim Morrison, it would have been understandable if winning Durban July owner Ashwin Reynolds had burst into song on Saturday night with a few verses of the Doors hit song Light My Fire.

Three-year-old Kommetdieding has lit the fire this year for Reynolds — the first person of colour to own the winner of SA’s most famous race. The colt is also the first Afrikaans name on the roll of honour in its 125-year history.

In the run-up to the 2021 race at Greyville, which Reynolds was not allowed to attend due to lockdown restrictions, the owner of the son of Elusive Fort had two decisions to make — and seemingly got them both right.

First, he had to turn down some big offers for his R55,000 buy which were made in the past few weeks and, second, he had to decide on which jockey to put up in the grade 1 race.

As exclusively revealed by Business Day in June, the decision was made to engage former champion Gavin Lerena rather than Kommetdieding’s regular pilot, Sihle Cele.

Sporting Post got it right when stating “Cele no doubt experienced massively mixed emotions on Saturday”.

Lerena, who celebrated his 36th birthday on the eve of the race, rewarded the faith of Reynolds and trainers Harold Crawford and his daughter Michelle Rix with a perfect ride, which saw him beat Linebacker by half a length with the favourite, Got The Greenlight, a close-up third.

Dual winner Do It Again had a troubled passage in the straight but finished fourth with Linebacker’s stablemate Rascallion taking the fifth cheque.

Rix, who could not have wished for a better start to her training career, praised Reynolds for being “an owner in a million” and stressed what an important role her father was playing in her learning the trade.

Similar to Garth Puller, who shed a lot of weight to ride Bush Telegraph in 1987, Lerena will hardly have eaten in the last fortnight to do the weight of 53kg. If he treated himself to a slap-up meal on Saturday night, he deserved it.

Kommetdieding, sent off at 10-1 and paying R8.50 on the tote, was not a bad result for bookmakers, who faced hefty payouts if victory had gone to Got The Greenlight or heavily backed 3-1 chance Linebacker.

Rainbow Bridge, trying to become the first six-year-old to win the July since 1980, failed to land a blow and came home in eighth place, about five lengths behind the winner. A length further back came the filly She’s A Keeper, who always looked an optimistic mount for champion jockey Warren Kennedy.

Bookmakers must have thought Christmas had come early when they beat the two fancied runners, War Of Athena and Captain’s Ransom, in the grade 1 Garden Province Stakes.

As mentioned in Friday’s column, Princess Calla looked a danger to the favourites and Lyle Hewitson’s mount appeared destined for her most important win until snared on the line by 50-1 chance Zarina. Candice Bass-Robinson’s filly got the verdict by the width of cigarette paper.

Captain’s Ransom, who started at 5-2, was never a serious factor and finished in sixth place some three lengths behind the winner. The Captain Al filly had won six of her previous seven starts.

Though he did not have a runner in the big race, trainer Mike de Kock had the satisfaction of saddling the most impressive winner at the meeting — Desert Miracle romping to a facile win in the grade 2 Golden Slipper. The winning margin was eight lengths.

Desert Miracle is bred in the purple being by 2003 July winner Dynasty out of the top-class mare Welwitschia. Little wonder Mary Slack did not send the filly to the sales.

Wilgerbosdrift/Mauritzfontein also bred the winner of the other two-year-old feature, the grade 2 Golden Horseshoe. Waterberry Lane, trained by Dean Kannemeyer, gave Mike and Norma Rattray some consolation for Rainbow Bridge’s no-show in the July.

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